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Leadership VS Followership


The mainstream scenario of leadership is understood and defined in many ways. As per Warren Bennis, leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. John Maxwell defines leadership as an influence to maximize efforts of the team towards achieving goals. Simply, Leadership within yourself, leadership in a group, company, community or anywhere defines the actions towards any goals you want to meet as a positive social influence. However, the modern context is more sophisticated where participation of followers shares equal responsibilities.

‘Leaders lead and followers follow’ concept and meanings are no longer mainstream. Followership is explained as a dark side of leadership in literatures. Followers are taken as moderators or recipients and not active agents. However, there holds equal power of followers to change the dynamics. The skills of follower nurture leadership. It is important to know the capabilities of team members and use their talents strategically in an organisation to work towards targets. Leaders need to understand emotions and empower teams to bring out best in them and lead towards the vision.

Being a follower is not so easy. You have to be courageous to complete the task, engage with co-workers in every situation, to have the enthusiasm to support and trust leader every day, collaborate and adjust to the work culture.

John Quincy says, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” While there is leadership in every role you take whether it’s a cook, a waiter, a barber, manager, etc. Anyone can be a follower while still holding the position of a leader. The manager who does not interact with team members, who cannot motivate teams to bring 100% effort and maximize outputs, who lacks the vision to direct team and lead to grow no longer becomes a leader but hangs in the title.

The relationship between of leader and follower is interdependent. Leaders empower team to succeed, navigate the direction, coaches to improve. Followers are the strengths to implement the actions needed. For instance, patient as follower implements the actions needed to be healthy as guided by the doctor as a leader. Here, both the actions of doctor and patient are interdependent to improve patient’s health.

In the context of Nepal, leaders hold the power to change and make decisions in almost all the fields. Organisational decisions in most of the companies practice top-to-bottom approach. The executives make decisions and front line and middle managers follow orders. While the wave of change can be seen in young companies towards change in organizational culture like Startups. Women are taken as natural followers in male dominant society. However, women are now empowered to lead and push their dreams higher. The change is much felt in young generations. The practice of democracy and the recent increase in elections participation creates awareness of interdependent relation between leadership and followership.

By: Alina Prajapati